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(EXCLUSIVE) #BoxOffice Report: @TheHungerGames Leads Worst Weekend Since 1998

Another week, another disastrous opening for an Oscar contender.

Story by Matt Cummings

It's clear that while a Ron Howard/Chris Hemsworth marriage looks good on paper, audiences just aren't sold. This weekend's box office proved once again that a to-notch director and a successful Marvel leading man aren't enough to guarantee box office win. Such is the story behind In the Heart of the Sea, as it floundered in the open water with a second place opening to a film that's been in theaters for four weeks.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 kept its No. 1 status for another week, earning just $11.3m. It's second film in the Hunger Games franchise to manage a four-weekend run, and the first since Furious 7 did it back when the summer began. But the news ins't all good: Mockingjay 2 is still the fourth best overall performer in the franchise, crossing just $564m worldwide.

At No. 2 is the aforementioned In the Heart of the Sea, making just $11m on a $100+m budget. After a well-reviewed Rush broke down at the box office in 2013, it was viewed that Howard's period piece about Formula One racing was just a misundestood road bump in an otherwise solid career. Heart was meant as a strong Oscar contender as well, but its lackluster CinemaScore of 'B+' coupled with less-than-stellar reviews doomed its mission from outset. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens set to possibly demolish every box office record for December, we think Heart will sink fast in its earnings and disappear without a trace come Jan. 1.

The struggle between third and fourth was extremely close. Coming in at No. 3 was The Good Dinosaur, $10.m, which is still very disappointing for a Pixar film. Its $89.48m 19-days haul doesn't even qualify it for the top 100 Disney films of all time, which should change by the time it ends its run. Closely behind Dinosaur was Creed, dropping only 32.5% in its third weekend, with a total of $10.1m. The well-received sixth Rocky film has now grossed $79m domestically ($35m budget). Rounding out the top five Krampus at $8.42m.

But perhaps just as important as the shoddy opening for Heart was the following: the weekend top 12 took in only $68.7m, the worst this weekend had seen since 1998's gem Star Trek: Insurrection (and yes, we hated Insurrection). With The Star Wars Effect in full swing - that is, audiences saving their money to visit a galaxy far, far away - many films this week and next are going to see greatly-diminished returns, particularly if Episode 7 is well received. It will no doubt shatter the $84.6m December opening weekend record, but the real money is by how much. Rentrak has been hush-hush about their estimates, but some are looking at $200-230m. Such a tall order would best this year's previous winner Jurassic World, but even with 4,000+ screens on tap to show it, we're not sure if there's still enough capacity to topple the record. No matter what happens, we'll be here to record it all.

Discuss this sotry with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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